Category Archives: shifters
Publisher: Brilliance Audio
Publishing Date: September 2, 2014
Paperback: 450 pages
Narrators: Lorelei King and Alexander Cendese
Rating: 5 stars
Shifting Shadows is a collection of short stories from the World of Mercy Thompson. Some feature Mercy and her friends and some do not. Patricia Briggs has a wonderful storyteller and she has created an interesting world of Urban Fantasy. These stories give you a taste of her Mercy Thompson series, as well as several stories that don’t feature characters from her Mercy Thompson series so you can simply enjoy the stories and see if Patricia Briggs is for you.
The Mercy Thompson series are told in the first person by Mercy. A few of these stories are fill in scenes from her books that didn’t fit since there were told by Mercy. So it gives you extras views but it will give spoilers if you haven’t reached those stories yet.
We also get to spend time with Warren and Kyle as well as Ben. It is nice to get a little deeper into these characters. Ben is challenged to not swear for a month and it is quite entertaining to see him almost struggle to speak without his expletives. There is a back story on Samuel and Ariana.
As you can probably guess, Alpha and Omega is the novella which began the Alpha and Omega spinoff series. We never spent much time with Charles in any of Mercy’s book but we kind of knew him as Bran’s scary powerful and unsocial son. I hadn’t jumped on his spin off but now I have picked up the first three audiobooks in this series and am looking forward to those.
The remaining stories involve vampires, ghosts, witches and fae which will all follow the world building rules which is presented in the Mercy Thompson series. These were all very entertaining stories. It reminded me of Stephen King novels when he would give you a full back story on a character who was just crossing the street (and about to be killed), but by the time King killed off the guy, you were so intrigued and invested in this guy you were sad he died. I enjoyed these little peeks in the windows of others who live in Mercy’s world.
I found it interesting that Patricia Briggs gives a brief description of what prompted the story or what guidelines she was presented in the previously published stories. For example, for the story Gray , she needed to write a story featuring a color and a holiday. It is interesting the stories that are created for the different anthologies that these stories were originally part of.
I am a big fan of Patricia Briggs’ writing and Mercy Thompson and friends. So I enjoyed all the stories presented in this collection. If you are looking for a new paranormal/urban fantasy author, this would be a great way to check out Patricia’s work without making the full commitment to an entire series.
I have listened to this entire series by audiobook. Lorelei King brings Mercy and the gang to life for me. She has a very natural narration style and gives voice to a cast of characters. This was my first time listening to Alexander Cendese, but I thought he did a wonderful job narrating for Samuel and for David.
Received a review audiobook from Brilliance audio in exchange for an honest review.
Previously Published Stories
- Alpha and Omega The first novella about Anna and Charles, which led to a whole spin-off series.
- Gray An vampire buys the home where she lived with her husband, which has fallen into disrespair. She begins remodeling the place, only to find that old and beloved ghosts still linger.
- Fairy Gifts Mining towns are rough and human life is cheap. In the turn-of-the-century Butte Montana, a young man, turned to a vampire, struggles with his nature and eventually finds a measure of redemption in an unlikely place.
- Seeing Eye White witches are rare, and seldom as powerful as their morally-compromised counterparts. In this story, a blind witch teams up with a werewolf on a mission.
- The Star of David Being a werewolf can wreck havoc on family relations. This is a story of how murder and deception can bring a family together . . .
- In Red, with Pearls Warren is a werewolf, and a private detective. This is a noir-flavored story about some truly terrible neighbors and why you should always treat a werewolf nicely.
- Silver This is probably the only depressing story I’ve ever written, and it was a hard story to write. This covers how Bran and Samuel were first made into werewolves, and how Samuel first fell in love with the Ariana. Of course, as we learned in Silver Borne, things have to take a tragic turn.
- Outtake One After the tragedy of Silver, I had to remind myself that with long life comes the opportunity to overcome the past, and forge a better future. Samuel and Ariana have another chance at love, and they’re determined to make it work. This is an outtake from Silver Borne
- Roses in Winter A young girl survives a werewolf attack, and is transformed into a werewolf. When she wasn’t able to control the wolf, she was moved to Bran’s pack. The law is absolute: if a werewolf cannot learn to control the wolf, they must be destroyed for the safety of all. With hope fading, Asil intervenes.
- Redemption Ben’s got a quick temper, and a quicker tongue. He’s also made a bet that he can stop swearing for a week, and it just might change his life.
- Hollow A wealthy recluse is haunted by a terrible ghost, and asks Mercy for help. What could possibly go wrong?
- Outtake Two A bit that I wrote in Adam’s viewpoint for Night Broken.
This is from Alpha and Omega:
“I think maybe you are the key to Leo’s mystery.”
She couldn’t help a snort of derision. “Me? Leo needed a new doormat?”
He leaned suddenly forward, knocking his chair over as he swept her off of her own and stood her on her feet. She’d thought she was used to the speed and strength of the wolves, but he stole her breath.
As she stood still and shocked, he prowled around her until he came back around the front and kissed her, a long, dark, deep kiss that left her breathless for another reason entirely.
“Leo found you and decided that he needed you,” he told her. “He sent Justin after you, because any of his other wolves would know what you were. Even before your Change, they’d have known. So he sent a half-crazy wolf because any other would have been unable to attack you.”
Hurt, she flinched away from him. He made her sound special, but she knew he was lying. He sounded like he was telling the truth, but she was no prize. She was nothing. For three years she had been nothing. He made her feel special today, but she knew better.
His hands, when they came down on her shoulders, were hard and impossible to resist. “Let me tell you something about Omega wolves, Anna. Look at me.”
She blinked back tears, and, unable to resist his command, raised her eyes to glare at him.
“Almost unique,” he said and gave her a little shake. “I work with numbers and percentages all the time, Anna. I might not be able to figure the odds exactly, but I’ll tell you that the chances that Justin picked you out to Change by sheer chance are almost infinitesimal. No werewolf, acting on instincts alone, would attack an Omega. And Justin strikes me as a wolf who acts on very little else.”
“Why no? Why wouldn’t he have attacked me? And what is an Omega?”
It was evidently the right question because Charles stilled, his former agitation gone. “You are an Omega, Anna. I bet that when you walk into a room, people come to you. I bet complete strangers tell you things they wouldn’t tell their own mothers.”
Incredulous, she stared at him. “You saw Justin this morning. Did he look calm to you?”
“I saw Justin,” he agreed slowly. “And I think that in any other pack he would have been killed shortly after he was made because his control is not good enough. I don’t know why he was not. But I think you allow him to control his wolf—and he hates you for it. You should not be ranked last in your pack.” His hands slid down her shoulders until he held her hands. Oddly that felt more intimate than his kiss had. “An Omega wolf is like the Indian medicine men, outside of the normal pack rankings. They had to teach you to lower your eyes, didn’t they? To submissive wolves, such things are instinctive. You, they had to beat down. You bring peace to all those around you, Anna,” he said intently, his eyes on her. “A werewolf, especially a dominant wolf, is always on the edge of violence. After being shut in an aircraft with too many people for hours, I came into the airport craving bloodshed like a junkie craves his next fix. But when you came up to me, the anger, the hunger left.”
He squeezed her hands. “You are a gift, Anna. An Omega wolf in the pack means that more wolves survive the Change from human to wolf because they can find control easier with you there. It means that we lose fewer males to stupid dominance fights because an Omega brings a calmness to all those around him. Or her.”
There was a hole in his argument. “But what about earlier, when you almost changed because you were so angry.”
Something happened to his face, an emotion she didn’t know him well enough to read, except to know that it was strong.
When he spoke it was with the visible effort, as if his throat had tightened. “Most werewolves find someone they love, get married, and spend a long time with their spouse before the wolf accepts her as his mate.” He dropped her gaze and turned away, walking across the room and giving her his back.
Without the warmth of his body, she felt cold and alone. Scared.
“Sometimes it doesn’t happen that way,” he told the wall. “Let it rest there for now, Anna. You have been through enough without this.”
“I am so tired of being ignorant,” she spat, suddenly hugely angry. “You’ve changed all the rules on me—so you can damned well tell me what the new rules are.” As abruptly as the anger had come, it was gone, leaving her shaky and on the verge of tears.
He turned and his eyes had gone gold, reflecting the dim light of the room until they glowed. “Fine. You should have let it be, but you want truth.” His voice rumbled like thunder, though it wasn’t very loud. “My Brother Wolf has taken you for his mate. Even if you were nothing to me, I would have never allowed such abuse as you have suffered since your Change. But you are mine, and the though of you hurt, of being able to do nothing about it, is an anger that even an Omega wolf cannot easily soothe.”
ORDER A COPY: Wanted: Wild Thing (Midnight Liaisons)
Publisher: Pocket Books
Publishing Date: August 26, 2014
Paperback: 354 pages
Rating: 4 stars
The final book in a romance series set in a “fun, sexy world” (USA TODAY), where paranormals seek love through a dating service called Midnight Liaisons.
Ryder is hiding a dark secret from her coworkers at Midnight Liaisons. Every time she’s sexually attracted to a man, her dragon side breaks through. Not exactly man-bait! But she needs to lose her virginity before her twenty-fifth birthday, or she’ll become a dragon forever.
Her solution? Big, hunky Hugh, the appointed guardian of her chastity. He’s clearly hot for her, but he has powerful reasons to resist Ryder. Can temptation—and love—possibly find a way?
Ryder Sinclair has a wardrobe like Baby Spice and flirts with anything in pants. She is a human working nights at Midnight Liaison, the paranormal dating service, or at least she lets everyone think she’s your average, everyday human. Ryder is actually a changeling and if a man touches her skin with sexual intent, he triggers her changeling side. She has had to pretend food poisoning and run out the back door on more dates than she can remember.
When she was a teen, a half-Fae fortune teller once told her that if she finds The One she can keep the change at bay, but she must do it before she reaches her twenty-fifth birthday. If she remains a virgin at her twenty-fifth birthday, she will change into her changeling form permanently. So Ryder has become a flirting-machine trying to find that one man who can touch her without triggering her changeling side. With only a month to her twenty-fifth birthday, she is getting pretty desperate to remain human.
Ryder doesn’t realize that life can get so much worse than growing scales and sprouting horns until the night a Fae prince shows up in her office with his brutish bodyguard and let’s her know that he is the one who brought her to the human realm to be raised in safety after replacing her for her parents’s human child. He is excited that her change is almost complete and his investment will soon come to fruition. Ryder is a very rare and valuable changeling in the Fae realm and he plans to use her for breeding litters of valuable baby changelings that he will sell to rebuild his family’s fortunes.
Becoming a full-time monster isn’t enough of a horrific future to worry about, and now a Fae prince wants to turn her into a brood mare. He has also sent a bruiser to insure that she doesn’t loose her virginity before her transformation is complete. Since she can’t get out from under the watchful eye of Hugh, she’s going to have to give him an eyeful and convince him that taking her virginity is a better prize than whatever the Fae prince has promised him.
Hugh is holding firm to his vow, but he has never come across the Queen of Flirting who is desperate to remain human. This shifter might have a will of iron, but he doesn’t know what he’s up against when Ryder turns up the charm.
This was a fun story. This was my first Jessica Sims novel but I was gifted by Pocket Books with a few of other novels in the series, and I also picked up one novella which was free the other day on Amazon, so I would like to try the rest of the series. The Goodreads info says it is the last in the series, but the author’s website is declaring that as a rumor. She has a good cast of characters and this latest novel brings in a few more. I would think is it premature to walk away from such a promising series. I do want to read Marie’s story, who is Ryder’s BFF. She is as obnoxious and snarky as I like my heroines.
Although I haven’t read the other books in the series, Ryder does work with and talk about the other characters from the series and I got the idea that this story differs a bit from the others. The other stories involve shifters and some humans and even they think changelings are a myth. This story also involves Hugh who is brought over from the Fae Realm and he calls himself a Primordial while the Fae call him a Long-Tooth. From this and Ryder’s initial description, it is not hard to guess that Hugh is a saber-toothed tiger shifter. He and his men are kept in a primordial land where they don’t even wear clothing. So everything here is new and dangerous to Hugh.
I was a bit stressed for Ryder since the Fae Prince was planning to use her to breed and sell her offspring like she was a puppymill. He would swing by and check her progress, make her strip down and make her change for him so he could check on his investment. But to thwart his plans, she needed to lose her virginity and if she did that, Hugh would lose his prize which was women/mates for himself and the men of his tribe who have no women there. So for Ryder to win, Hugh’s men would lose out. This was a problem even Ryder struggled with.
There were some really funny part of this story where, in Ryder’s attempt to seduce Hugh, she puts on porn for him which started with a pizza delivery guy showing up and getting an extra special tip. This becomes a bit of a running gag in the story, including Hugh telling his men that there are women who will have lots of sex with you if you give them food. Ooooo!
I was a little disappointed that Ryder’s “dragon” form. As it is described it makes her more of a Sleestak with crumpled wings like a newly emerged butterfly than anything dragon-like. (If you got that reference, you are old like me.) As the last month progresses, her scales become more luminescent and her claws nicer, etc., but she is always very humanoid and she never becomes a dragon as they are usually described. Hugh might have thought she was beautiful, but me…not so much.
This was cleverly written and entertaining and a series I want to look into further.
Received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
“Perhaps you should leave her alone.”
“My job is to remain at her side and protect her virginity.” Hugh snarled in Brad’s face. His big hand clamped down on my shoulder again.
Despite the fact that we were in a side room at the restaurant, several people in the next room turned to look over at us, overhearing Hugh’s words.
“Oh, my God,” I moaned. “You did not just say that out loud in a crowded restaurant.”
“And if she doesn’t want it protected?” Brad asked.
“Yeah,” I said, pushing Hugh’s hand off my shoulder again.
“Then I will protect it for her,” Hugh said. “Against her will if I must.”
“You can’t make me leave,” I hissed at him. “This is a public place.” I was safe from him here.
Hugh leaned in to me, his face close to mine. “I am sorry for what I am about to do.”
His hand moving to the back of my neck, he leaned forward and pressed his mouth to mine in a startling, fierce kiss. his lips mashed against my own, and his scent was in my nostrils, his body pressed to mine.
Then, just as quickly, he pulled away. I stared up at him, dazed.
“Now, we leave,” Hugh said.
I blinked, trying to process all of this. Kiss? Leave? What? He grabbed my hand in his and dragged me toward the doors of the restaurant.
I immediately tried to jerk away, realizing what all this was about.
He was deliberately activating my changeling side. Hugh knew that if my curse kicked in I’d have no choice but to leave with him. Anger burned inside me, but it was quickly swallowed up by the transformation spiraling through my body. My monster coiled and reared, and I felt my skin shiver with awareness. Anger at Hugh blossomed, then quickly turned to fear when others started to look at us.
Damn him! I stopped struggling and gave everyone a cheerful wave, practically running with Hugh as he stomped toward the parking lot. I had to make things seem like they were normal, or else someone was sure to follow us out due to concern for me. And that was the last thing I wanted—if someone followed us, they’d get a glimpse of my scaly side.
It was evident to me that the change was going to come whether I wanted it or not. Even now, I could feel the throb in my shoulder blades that was the onset of my wings, and my gums ached from where my fangs were about to pop. My grip tightened in High’s, and I knew the pressure I was exerting would soon be intense.
But if that didn’t communicate my anxiety, nothing would.
As soon as we got to the parking lot, I bolted, dashing away from Hugh. He let me, and I continued on, racing for my car. My hand fumbled to find my keys, but claws were sprouting and my muscles were clenching, and it was impossible for me to concentrate. Pain erupted, throbbing through my body.
Too late. Before I could even open the door to my vehicle, my legs gave out. I crouched, huddling around myself as my changes tore through me.
Hugh crouched low next to me. His hand smoothed down my back, ignoring the fact that it was lumpy and muscles were seething. “I am sorry Ryder.”
“You…suck…” I whispered between gasps, my hands clenched tight as my tail ripped out of my back. I gave a small cry of pain, only to have it swallowed as he pulled me to his chest, Muffling my cries as he held me close.
“It grieves me to do this to you,” he murmured and his hand stroked my hair even as he cradled me tight.
I fought him for a moment, but feebly. The transformation was happening, and I couldn’t stop it any more than I could stop him from holding me close.
And what was worse? With every stroke of his hand on my hair, I didn’t want him to stop holding me.
ORDER A COPY: A Curse Awakened: A Weird Girls Novella
Publishing Date: August 19, 2014
eBook: 94 pages
Rating: 4 stars
Discover Cecy Robson’s sensational Weird Girls series—or return to where the magic first began—with this eBook original prequel novella about four sisters coming to grips with their unique supernatural powers.
Celia Wird shouldn’t possess the ability to transform into a tigress. Her three sisters should never be able to burst into flames, heal wounds, or transform common objects into deadly weapons. And yet they do.
Before they were born, the Wird Sisters were cursed by a spell that was intended to destroy them, not endow them with extraordinary powers. The sisters’ magic is untamed and explosive at best, and time is running out for them to take command.
Vampires have targeted Celia’s sweet, tragically human ex-boyfriend Danny. The sisters rush to his aid, but in order to take down the vamps, first they must face their dark past and break a spell that’s screwing up their powers. Except this curse wasn’t meant to be broken . . . and the witch who cast it isn’t done toying with them yet.
When Celia receives a phone call from her ex-boyfriend Danny that he and his father are being attacked by vampires, Celia’s need to protect won’t let her walk away from them. But getting into a war with a crazy vampire mistress who has claimed Danny’s father as her new pet, isn’t what she needs right now on top of packing up to move to their new home.
Yet it is Danny who realizes that the sisters’ powers have been bound by a witch and if they can locate and destroy the witch’s alter, they will be able to control their gifts, rather than having them always backfire.
Knowing they need all their strengths to go up against a powerful family of vampires, their first stop is to their old neighborhood to find Tia Griselda’s alter and break the spell. If they can take on a powerful witch and survive, maybe they will have what it takes to take on a mad vampire, or maybe it would be just smarter to get out of town before they make some very powerful enemies.
I enjoyed this novella which focused more on the sisters together. Although all of the Weird Girl stories are enjoyable, they are told in the first person and in the last few stories Celia is spending more time with either Misha or Aric. While those plots bring their own enjoyment, it is fun to see the sisters working, or in this case fighting, together.
This novella also gives us a better understanding of the curse which gives the sisters their powers.
This is an enjoyable series and I am looking forward to the next installment.
Received an ARC from the author in exchange for an honest review.
(Tiny scene. It made me laugh.)
I leaped from the elevated lot and landed in a deep crouch in the sand, perfectly poised and ready to haul tail across the beach.
Until my sisters and Danny landed in a heap on top of me and I ate about half a cup of sand.
They rolled off me, moaning while I hacked out the nasty mess. I scraped the excess with my nails while drooling like a dumbass. “Oops. Sorry, Celia.” Emme mumbled.
ORDER A COPY: Peanut Goes to School: A Short Story of the Elder Races
Publisher: Self Published
Publishing Date: June 30, 2014
eBook: 49 pages
Rating: 4 stars
Dragos Cuelebre is no longer the only dragon.
Dragos’s son Liam Cuelebre (a.k.a. Peanut) is springing into existence, reminiscent of the first of the Elder Races who were born at the beginning of the world. At just six months of age, he has already grown to the size of a large five-year-old boy. He can read, write in complete sentences, and his math skills are off the chart.
A white dragon in his Wyr form, Liam also holds more Power than almost anyone else. In an effort to give him a taste of normality, no matter how fleeting, his parents Pia and Dragos enroll him in first grade.
They hope school will help teach Liam how to relate to others, a vital skill that will help him control his growing Power. But school has a surprising number of pitfalls, and relating to others can be a tricky business.
When a classmate is threatened, Liam must quickly learn self-control, how to rein in his instincts, and govern his temper, because there’s no doubt about it—he is fast becoming one of the most dangerous creatures in all of the Elder Races.
Peanut, or Liam as we should call him since his is growing up so quickly, is becoming one of my favorite characters in this or just about any series.
Liam is the only a few months old, but as the first dragon since Dragos was created at the beginning of creation, no one is certain what to expect as far as powers or his unusual growth. He seems to have a blend of his parents personalities and abilities, but he keep surprising us all with new abilities of his very own. He even managed to sneak up on his Dad without his father sensing him, which his quite the feat.
On his first day of school, he is picked on by a few of the older boys as well as his teacher. He handles both instances with just the right mixture of intelligent thought, bravery and a little intimidation of his own. I am sure he will shine as a future leader in this series.
I can’t wait to see what else Liam’s unusual character will bring to the series as far as his adventures and his abilities. I just hope he doesn’t grow up too fast. I am not sure how I would feel about him growing up and getting his own love story when he is only, say two calendar years old.
Received an ARC from the author in exchange for an honest review.
The tricky thing about using a cloaking spell is that cloaking spells are tricky.
Liam snickered to himself as he tiptoed around the patio furniture and changed into his dragon form. His dragon had grown to the size of an adult lion, and he had to be careful not to knock over furniture as he shapeshifted.
He also managed to hold on to his cloaking spell, which was a bit fat win. Dad had said Liam’s cloaking ability was one of the best he’d ever seen, although it was difficult to stay hidden while changing forms.
But since his dad could do it, Liam felt he would be able to it also. Eventually. Sometimes. If he kept practicing, pretty soon he should be able to stay cloaked all the time if he needed to.
Liam was playing his favorite game, Spy Wyr, which he had totally made up himself. When he grew up, he was going to be a secret sentinal. Uncle Graydon would send him out on missions, and when he returned after saving somebody, or maybe even after saving everybody, Mom and Dad would be really proud of him.
Of course, because it was undercover, Dad would have to give him medals in secret. Sometimes they might be silver or bronze ones, or when he did something amazing, they might be gold. Or maybe when he did something really outstanding, Dad would give him a sparkly medal with diamonds on it. Then Liam would have to find a super-secret place to hide them.
His dragon side like the sound of that. It made him feel growly and fine.
By day, Liam would be, oh, maybe a basketball player. Basketball players traveled a lot, so it would be a good cover, and besides it would be fun to play ball all the time, so that would be big fat win.
Hi, my name if Cuelebre, Liam Cuelebre. My code name is Double Oh Peanut, but you can call me Rock Star for short.
ORDER A COPY: Pia Saves the Day: A Novella of the Elder Races
Publisher: Thea Harrison
Publishing Date: June 23, 2014
ebook: 90 pages
Rating: 5 stars
In the latest story of the Elder Races, two mates face their deadliest challenge yet—each other…
Pia and Dragos’s magical young son Liam (the Peanut), is growing at an unprecedented rate, and if that isn’t enough, he is also exhibiting new, and unpredictable, magical gifts. To protect him, the concerned parents decide to move to upstate New York.
Both Dragos and Pia relish the idea of leaving behind the city. They finally have the space to indulge their Wyr side, and Liam can grow in safety. It’s a breath of fresh air—literally—but their idyllic situation is shattered when Dragos is injured in a freak accident.
Stripped of his memory and bereft of Pia’s taming influence, there’s nothing holding back Dragos’s darkest side. And in order to restore her family and save her mate, Pia must confront the most powerful menace in Elder Races history.
It’s going to take more than a penny to fix this.
Pia and Dragos have decided to move to Drago’s property in upstate New York on a more permanent basis. They want Liam to grow up in the fresh air and open spaces that Manhattan just can’t offer. In order to move the Wyr headquarters upstate, additions need to be made to the sprawling property. The mansion needs some updating, but more importantly, they need housing for the sentinels as well as the security and Drago’s office staff.
As part of the project, the construction crew needs to level the bedrock for the new housing building. When an explosion goes wrong, Dragos is covered in rubble and an angry and injured dragon emerges. It is obvious from his actions that there is more to Drago’s injuries than just the bleeding head wound. The wounded Dragos takes off and Pia must first protect his demesne before she can take off to find her mate.
Pia’s blood has the power to heal but she has to get the wary and cunning dragon to trust her enough to get close. She tries to get his attention with gold and jewels to tempt his acquisitive nature. Dragos doesn’t remember Pia but her scent is stirring something deep down inside him. Dragos is looking at the golden beauty before him and he sees a treasure more valuable than baubles which he wants to keep for himself.
I absolutely love that Thea Harrison has once again brought us a story of Pia and Dragos. This would be the third story that has come back to focus on these major characters of the series. Series either focus on the continuing story of a main character or characters or they focus on a group and each pair gets their day in the sun. It is rare that an author will bring the spotlight back to characters who have already had their story told, and I love that she does this. I talked with author Thea Harrison just before the Lord’s Fall was released two years ago.
In this series Pia and Dragos are the backbone of this group and obviously they still have a lot of story to be told. Dragos is the most powerful Wyr in existence, no question. See favorite scene from Kinked. In Dragon Bound, he was pushy and domineering to a degree that should have pissed me off, but I couldn’t help but be intrigued by the dynamics of Dragos and Pia and that has only increased as the series progressed and Pia brings out a gentleness that is surprising even to the dragon himself. They are a very dynamic power couple in the paranormal world.
If you are a fan of the series, you have probably already purchased this novella and have finished it and don’t need my review to sway you in any way. But most interesting about this novella, I believe, is that there are several things occurring here that are going to bring interesting, if not major, changes to the series and to the dynamics of the characters.
This is not something that an author of a well liked series does unless they’re desperate or creating a spin off, and especially not in the form of a novella rather than a major novel release. This is pretty brave shake up on the part of Thea Harrison. I am absolutely fascinated to see how the ripples created by this novella is going to effect the future stories.
There is one more novella featuring the Cuellebre family coming out this summer and it is Peanut Goes to School. Here is another delightful character in the series who brings a great big question mark about how he will change things. Peanut is the nickname of Pia and Dragos’s son Liam and he is the only other dragon to exist since Dragos was “born” at the creation of the world millennia ago. He is growing at a phenomenal rate, but since there are no other dragons, no one knows what is normal for him. He turns into a tiny baby dragon which is absolutely adorable! Since everything about Peanut’s dragon nature being combined with Pia’s gifts is up in the air, anything can happen. He is a great big surprise and no one knows how he will affect the future of the series.
The other characters and stories have been very entertaining, but the big stars of this series are no question Pia, Dragos and Liam.
If you like paranormal romance and haven’t tried the Elder Races series, you are definitely missing out.
Received an ARC from the author in exchange for an honest review.
Dragos bent his head and kissed her, softly because their sleeping son nestled between them. His firm, warm lips parted hers, and he dipped his tongue into her mouth in an erotic promise for later. Awash in the love that burned through her veins, she steadied herself by gripping his bicep. With obvious reluctance, he pulled away.
In the fourteen months they had been together, the desire had never changed. Elemental as necessary as breathing, it dictated the rhythm of their lives. They orbited around each other, always looking, always reaching for the other, but it never ceased to amaze her that he looked at her this way.
His brutally handsome face could be so hard, so ruthless, but his need for her always won through. She never doubted what he felt for her. She could see it in everything he did.
You want me, she breathed.
She’d meant to say it in a cocky and flirtatious way, with a wink and a saucy Marilyn Monroe wiggle of the hips. But she forgot to wink, the hip wiggle turned into a slow, needy roll against his, and the words came out breathless and awed.
He rubbed the calloused ball of his thumb across her soft, moistened lips. A dark flush stained his high cheekbones, and his gold eyes glittered. I’ll die before I stop wanting you.
Me too. She closed her eyes at his touch.
They were both immortal Wyr. Maybe, just maybe, that would be long enough to express the depth of what she felt for him.
He kissed her forehead. Here, take Liam.
She glanced down at the top of Liam’s head and said softly, “I’m going to tuck him into his crib.”
Dragos nodded, his expression softening as he looked down at Liam too. “Now that you’re back, I’ll head out to the site. I want to see how much headway they’ve made in the blasting today.”
“Okay.” She smiled at him. “See you later.”
He answered her with a slow, wicked one of his own. “But not too much later. I fancy an early bedtime tonight.”
She watched him walk away, thinking happy, comfortable thoughts. Dinner then bed, and who knew when they would finally fall asleep? They could take their time tonight. They had all the time in the world.
Less than an half an hour later, she would give anything to call him back to her again. Anything to keep him from walking away.
Oh gods, anything.
ORDER A COPY: Shield of Winter (A Psy/Changeling Novel)
Publishing Date: June 3, 2014
Hardcover: 448 pages
Rating: 5 stars (Awesome!)
Assassin. Soldier. Arrow. That is who Vasic is, who he will always be. His soul drenched in blood, his conscience heavy with the weight of all he’s done, he exists in the shadows, far from the hope his people can almost touch—if only they do not first drown in the murderous insanity of a lethal contagion. To stop the wave of death, Vasic must complete the simplest and most difficult mission of his life.
For if the Psy race is to survive, the empaths must wake…
Having rebuilt her life after medical “treatment” that violated her mind and sought to stifle her abilities, Ivy should have run from the black-clad Arrow with eyes of winter frost. But Ivy Jane has never done what she should. Now, she’ll fight for her people, and for this Arrow who stands as her living shield, yet believes he is beyond redemption. But as the world turns to screaming crimson, even Ivy’s fierce will may not be enough to save Vasic from the cold darkness.
Last year’s Heart of Obsidian left us at the dawn of a new Psy world. Kaleb Krychek had declared the fall of Silence as a new way of life for the psy people. There would be no more rehabilitations and no more training out emotions by pain or torture. The psy people would be allowed to once again free to feel love and joy, anger and pain and they would no longer be persecuted for these imperfections. But has the fall of Silence come too late?
There is a virus which is oozing its way through the psy-net and when it finds a weakness, it breaks through into the minds of the unsuspecting psy and is causing madness on a mass scale. And it is not just those who are infected that are suffering. The maddened psy are going on a violent rampage and no one is safe from their attacks, not human, changeling or other psy.
Kaleb believes it is the missing E designation, the ones Silence tried to breed out, that hold the answer to stopping the virus but with 100 years of suppression and hiding, he must first find powerful E’s hiding among the population and then train them how to use the abilities they were always told didn’t exist.
Kaleb brings in the Arrows to help locate his test group of E designation and get them to agree to train with Sascha Duncan. He has made an agreement with the cats and wolves of Dark River and Snow Dancer to create a training camp for the E psy near Sascha and far from an infected site of the psy-net.
Kaleb needs the Arrows not just to locate the E’s but to protect them since not everyone is in agreement that the E’s can save the failing psy-net. There are many who fear that the re-emerging E designation are the cause of the infection itself.
Vasic has been trained as an Arrow since he was four. The Arrows have always worked in the shadows, being used by the now fallen Council as assassins. After two decades of bringing death and pain at the command of those who lied to bloat their own power, Vasic is at the precipice of darkness. He carries too much guilt on his soul and he can’t imagine anything further in his life but his own death. But it is his training and his loyalty to his fellow Arrows, that makes Vasic take the assignment to protect the E’s who he believes will save the psy people.
As the E’s learn and stretch their abilities, an usual side-effect is occurring, the emotional E-psy are bonding with the Arrows and healing the most Silent of the psy race.
Vasic’s charge is Ivy. Ivy was a gradient 9.8 on the scale for the “non-existent” designation of E, and after years of trying to suppress that power, in her late teens she volunteered for rehabilitation only to have her brain nearly butchered. If she can work past the damage done, she could be an asset in repairing the psy-net.
When the man who’s Silence is such a part of him meets the woman who has never been able to submit to the harsh structure, she sees past the blackness in his soul and accepts Vasic shadows and all, and he vows to protect this most precious treasure with his last breath. But choices Vasic has made on his descent into darkness are coming back to haunt him, and now that he has finally found a measure of peace, he might not be around long enough to enjoy it.
Nalini Singh shows us that gaining freedom is just the beginning. You then need to learn what to do with it. Kaleb Krychek announced the end of Silence, but after 100 years of the protocol, the psy people don’t know what is the next step. The psy were trained not to show feelings so those who survive the attacks by the insane psy are just as afraid of the rescuers as the attackers since showing fear would have gotten you rehabilitation for your flawed Silence. They are also afraid that maybe the announcement was just a way to get the flawed to reveal themselves. There are also those who fear that the fall of Silence and the re-emergence of the E-psy are the reason for the infection through the psy-net so the E’s are constantly under attack.
After 100 years of suppression, these hidden E’s are also being asked to fix an escalating and deadly flaw when they don’t understand the powers that they have and were always told didn’t exist, only to find out that different E-psy have different abilities and they don’t all accomplish the same purpose.
I like the fact that the fall of Silence doesn’t mean just rainbows and puppies. “Great, we’re free to live without fear of failing, but now what?” We see that even Kaleb has to sit down and figure out what needs to be done next after the fall of Silence. Where do they go from here?
As far as Vasic’s story, I find that I have enjoyed most the stories which involved Kaleb, Judd and now Vasic, the three most powerful psy’s who were basically tortured into accepting and being controlled by Silence, but who found a way to break that control for the right woman. I actually thought this would be a story of Vasic and Aden who is his best friend. Even under Silence, there was a strong emotional connection between the two men which shouldn’t have existed under Silence, and we will understand better the two young boys who should have trained against each other and competed against each other, and who grew a bond that made them the strong leaders they are of the Arrows. Aden has been watching Vasic spiral into a depression for the last few years and not knowing how to save his friend. Even he is amazed by the transformation after only being around Ivy a short time.
Ivy’s complete lack of Silence is why her parents kept her hidden from the net. After the brutal rehabilitation, she managed to reclaim her mind but still couldn’t even maintain a pretense of Silence as many others did. Just Ivy being herself around Vasic is what draws him to her. She doesn’t have to beat at his shields or fight to break him down. She accepts him as he is with his shadows and with his Silence and you see the subtle changes in their relationship in allowing a touch or leaning into her when she speaks or the telepathic contacts which he allows with her. The building bond comes through in simple things like getting Ivy a warmer jacket; as a TK Vasic can pull one from anywhere, but he brings her his jacket. He even learns to accept her dog when Psy don’t keep pets since that would require an emotional connection but it is all done subtly where Vasic is having a conversation with Ivy and picks up the stick to throw for the dog. No fanfare, no big declaration, just a subconscious decision to play with the dog, which is something the well-trained Arrow should never have been able to do.
Psy don’t have sex. They sign conception contracts and use in vitro to make children. It is fun to watch the previously unfelt sexual attraction build between them and the slight fumbling to get it right. Vasic keeps teleporting them out of the room any time things start getting out of control so they need to keep building up things between them.
Especially moving is that this subtle change in Vasic to accept and show affection for Ivy has a rippling effect through the Arrows since for the first time these trained killers and assassins can see that maybe they too can have a regular life some day. Maybe they aren’t all lost to a dark future in the new world.
This was a very enjoyable story and a wonderful addition to the series. I wasn’t sure where Nalini Singh would take us after Heart of Obsidian, which was a highly anticipated book and tipping point for the series, but there is no disappointment to be had for fans of the series. She is taking us in a whole new direction and it will be a bit of a bumpy and intriguing road for all.
Received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
Ivy, Aden said you asked after me.
A crowd of butterflies took flight in her abdomen at the sound of Vasic’s telepathic voice, her nipples going painfully tight in a response that left her breathless. Intellectually, she’d known about sexual attraction—but no one had ever told her that all it would take was the sound of a certain male voice to make her lower body clench, her breasts aching and swelling as her pulse rate rocketed.
She thought of how he’d looked at her the previous night, pure Arrow concentration and ruthless focus, and bit down hard on her lower lip as her mind whispered that she should’ve pushed the strap down instead of pulling it up. Maybe then, he’d have put those strong fingers on her needy flesh.
I just missed you, she said through the sensual storm, unable to see him in the compound.
It was a simple errand, he said after a pause, and a good time to take care of it with Aden free to cover me. I’m walking in from the sentry line.
Heart skipping a beat at the fact her Arrow had actually explained himself to her, as if she had the right to question his movements, she flexed and unflexed her fingers atop his jacket…and then she did something either very brave or so stupid she’d never live down the humiliation. She sent him the erotic visual her mind had created, of her peeling down both straps of her camisole to reveal her breasts.
The silence echoed.
Groaning, she hid her flaming face in her hands. What had possessed her to, to—“Oh, God.”
Ivy…I may have caught an accidental image from your mind.
He was giving her an out. Chest heaving as her blood scalded her skin from the inside out, she grabbed some snow and pressed it to her cheeks. It wasn’t an accident, she admitted before the knots in her stomach tied her up into an incoherent ball. It was for you.
Vasic remained on his knees in the snow where he’d fallen when the picture of Ivy had slammed into his mind. It might as well have been a roundhouse punch to the jaw, his head was spinning so hard, his heartbeat erratic and a roar of blood in his ears.
It was for you.
No one had ever just given him something he wanted so much. Even though he knew he should erase the image from his mind, that it went against every one of the rules that helped him stay sane, stay stable, he opened it again. This time, the punch hit him directly in the solar plexus.
She was all shy smile and a peach-colored blush as she tugged down the straps of her top to reveal plump breasts topped with dusky pink nipples. The flesh of her breasts was a creamier shade than the skin of her shoulders, and he knew it’d mark easily Unable to resist, he ran a mental finger over one of those nipples, felt his rigid penis throb. The line of her neck drew his gaze, the curve of her shoulder, the slenderness of her arms. The lush softness of her lips.
Overwhelmed and incapable of processing the sensory input, he did the only thing he could: He shut it all down with jaw-clenched focus, sense by sense. It took several minutes, but he had both body and mind under control when he rose to his feet—after using a handful of clean snow to wash the sweat off his face and the back of his neck.
Then, instead of reprimanding Ivy for doing something that had cut his legs out from under him, he said, Thank you. He wasn’t going to erase that image. Not now, not ever. It was his.
No one could take it from him now, steal the piece of herself she’d handed him. He would keep it in his private mental file of all things Ivy Jane, and he’d look at it any time he needed an instant of beauty in the darkness.
Publishing Date: April 29, 2014
Paperback: 384 pages
Rating: 3 stars
Vampire Zoltan Czakvar is on the hunt for the truth about his father’s death. He’s been searching for a very long time—since 1241, in fact. And he is not about to give up, even when he’s attacked by a woman with striking blue eyes and a hell of a right hook!
Neona is also on the hunt. She’s looking for a mate, and she thinks muscled Zoltan will work just fine. After all, men are good for only one thing. Soon, though, she realizes there’s more to this handsome vampire than just sexual prowess. But she’s keeping a secret from Zoltan, something so big that it will rock the vampire world.
Can their new found love survive . . . even if their passion means the destruction of her world?
Zoltan Czakvar has been a vampire and Coven Master for over 800 years, and his day to day has become so routine…meetings, castle tours. The only excitement in his life right now is Howard’s wife, Elsa and her crew are renovating some of the more rundown areas of his castle in Transylvania.
Even though he has always known about vampires (it is Transylvania, after all), Zoltan never aspired to become one. It was only after his mother died, and his father was killed, that Zoltan sought out his sire. He needed to find who had killed his father, but after years of searching, he hadn’t found any answers and he needed to stay strong, young and healthy until he had some answers. That was in 1241. Zoltan is pretty sure whoever the assassin was is long dead, but he still stares at the arrow on his wall and dreams he would someday find an answer.
When Russell shows up at Zoltan’s castle carrying an arrow that has the same markings on it, Zoltan follows Russell back to Asia. But Tibet was the last place, he expected to find his father’s killer. Zoltan spent his time searching most of eastern Europe, but never expected someone to come halfway around the world to kill a man in Transylvania.
What he finds in the small village in the hidden valley in the Himalaya creates more questions than answers, including why do some of these warriors have the ability to talk to animals just like Zoltan and his mother could. This small group of warrior women are protecting some secret. Something important enough to kill anyone getting close enough to their valley to protect. When Zoltan tries to approach Neoma outside of the village walls to get some answers, she attacks him, but not with plans to kill him…at least not right away. Neoma wants Zoltan to father a child for her, and then she promises to release him after he gets the job done. As a vampire, Zoltan can’t father children, but he is not sure that this is a good time to mention that little bit of information. Not if he wants to live another day.
And Zoltan needs to survive if he wants to solve the mystery of what these women are protecting and what they had to do with his father’s death. As Zoltan starts to lose his heart to Neoma, he is begins to fear that she might have had been responsible for his father’s death…800 years ago.
I can’t explain to you how much it pains me to say bad things about one of my favorite authors, but I didn’t like this story at all. I read several glowing reviews of the story so maybe it is just me. Once I thought about the series, I find that the stories I don’t like as much involved other mythical creatures rather than just the vampire/human, vampire/shifter and shifter/human romances. Among my non-favorites are Connor’s story with the fallen death angel; Howard’s story and although I like Elsa’s job on the renovation show, I wasn’t into her and the Aunt’s and their mystical powers, and now Zoltan and his warrior girlfriend.
Things I found distracting about the story included the fact that although Neoma was taught English at some point in her life, it has been decades since she spoke English with anyone, and yet she had no problem jumping right into a conversation with Zoltan. Plus, she was born and lived in this hidden valley for a long, long time, but she had no problem following slang and not being freaked out by Zoltan’s sat phone, etc. They still cook over an open fire in a single clay pot but she didn’t question him making a phone call? I know that I am reading a vampire book, but characters and the story plot need to be conceivable within the world she created.
Without ruining the plot for anyone, I was bothered by a big “what comes first: the chicken or the egg” problem with the story plot and the ending leaves some big questions for the future of the series.
So after weeks holding onto my ARC copy until this popped to the top of my TBR list, I was so disappointed in this story. So after I have a good cry for saying mean things about Kerrelyn Sparks’ hard work, and I am going to sneak in a re-read of Roman’s or Gregori’s story (my favorites) to remind myself why I like this series so much.
Received an ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
He eyed the woman. She was sitting quietly beside him, biting her lip. Nervous. That was a good sign. He didn’t want to think that she did this sort of thing often. “Did I hear you correctly? You want my seed?”
Her cheeks flushed slightly, but she looked him in the eye. “Yes.”
“Was this your plan all along? Knock me out, tie me up, and rape me?”
She winced. “It’s not rape.”
“What else would you call it when you forcibly plan to take my seed?”
“I figured you would be willing.”
“To be raped?”
She grimaced. “It’s not rape as long as you agree.”
“What if I don’t agree?”
She looked dumbfounded for a moment. “I thought men always were agreeable.”
His hands fisted tightly around the rope as an unexpected surge of anger skittered through him. How many agreeable men had she found over the years? Probably plenty. What red-blooded male wouldn’t agree to letting a beautiful woman ravish him in the woods? Dammit.
He took a deep breath. Stay in control. “Before I can consider your offer, I have to know exactly what you expect of me.”
Her gaze drifted to his groin. “I thought it was obvious.”
“On the contrary, there are numerous issues that must be addressed.” Thankfully, her gaze returned to his face. He didn’t want her to notice the growing bulge in his pants.
She frowned. “Issues?”
“Yes. For instance, how long will I be required to performed? Will I receive compensation for any injuries incurred during the act?”
Her eyes widened. “Injuries?”
“It happens. I’ve been known to get terribly wild. Fortunately, you appear to be in excellent health, so you should survive the ordeal. Do you mind signing a waiver?” He enjoyed the growing expression of horror on her face. “Which position do you want to use? Or do you prefer multiple positions? How many times to you wish to climax?”
Her mouth dropped open. Then she shook herself and glared at him. “Ten.”
He blinked. Was she calling his bluff? “Ten what? Positions or climaxes?”
She hesitated a second, then lifted her chin. “Both.”
He stifled a laugh. She wasn’t letting him get the better of her.
Jerk, the leopard grumbled. Stop playing cat and mouse with her.
Zoltan glanced up and spotted the cat lounging on the branch of a nearby oak tree. You were supposed to leave.
It thumped its tail on the branch. I’ll leave when I feel like it.
Does she jump men like this every night? Zoltan asked.
What do you think? The leopard narrowed its eyes. Look who’s jealous now.
I’m not— Was he? Zoltan pushed that thought aside and turned back to the woman. “Are you sure you can handle ten climaxes?”
She shrugged. “Are you sure you can deliver?”
He smiled, enjoying the way she stood up to him. “I’ll do my best. But it might take an hour or so, depending on–“
“Oh, no!” We must be quicker than that. No more than five minutes at the most. In fact, we had better start right away before Freddie and the others find us.”
Another jab of anger shot through him. “Freddy? Who the hell is he?”
“Not tied to a tree, is he? Was he last night’s five-minute conquest?”
Her mouth dropped open.
How jealous can you get? The leopard eyed him with disdain.
I’m not! Shit. He was. Jealous of the unknown lovers of a woman he’d barely met. He must be going insane.
ORDER A COPY: Bite Me (The Pride Series)
Publishing Date: March 25, 2014
Paperback: 382 pages
Rating: 5 stars
Livy Kowalski has no time for idiots. When you shapeshift into a honey badger, getting through life’s irritants is a finely honed skill. Until she gets stuck housing her nutso cousin and dealing with her dad’s untimely and unexplained demise.
That’s where Vic Barinov comes in—or his house does. Vic can’t step outside without coming back to find Livy devouring his honey stash and getting the TV remote sticky. It gets his animal instincts all riled up. But he’ll have to woo her at high speed: all hell is breaking loose, and Livy is leading the charge.
Livy Kowalski is petite, shapely, vicious and all Honey Badger in Shelly Laurenston’s latest book in the Pride series.
Livy’s family is disappointed by her. From the cradle she has been taught by her family how to steal, how to pick locks, how to appraise valuables and instead of stealing art, Livy wants to waste her time creating it. Her art is everything to Livy but with a big show coming up, and she feels like her art has dried up and if a dry spell isn’t bad enough, somehow she has been dragged in to shoot the wedding of Bo Novikov and Blayne Thorpe. Artist to wedding photographer, could things get any worse.
Oh, but they can. Someone let her cousin Melly out of prison a few months early. It seems you can get good behavior even if you fake your own kidnapping to get more attention from your boyfriend. And now Melly has decided to move into Livy’s place for now. So going home is not an option.
And that’s why Vic has found Livy hiding up in his kitchen cabinet eating the rest of his honey. He wouldn’t mind so much if she used the key he gave her, but she keeps digging holes into the side of his house and the shifter-contractors are starting the jack the price up for fixing them.
Vic is more like his laid back bear father than his tiger mother, and like most hybrids, he has a few quirks of his own. But it’s his laid back nature that makes him able to roll with Livy’s volatile and usually violent nature. She’s not one for sharing anything–emotions, feelings, thoughts…honey, yet Vic is always there when she needs him.
Vic has been sent to find Frankie Whitlan, the man who has been organizing shifter hunts. He asks Livy to use her B&E skills to break into Allison Whitlan’s apartment to see if her father has contacted her. Livy finds something in that apartment that has her seeking out the family that she usually avoids, but Vic can’t get her to open up.
After weekend trip to the bear town of Honeyville (yeah, they know it’s quaint) to gorge on some gourmet honey and do a little jousting (yes, I said jousting), Livy finally confesses what she found in that apartment and it is enough to anger every shifter so that they agree to work with the honey badgers to bring in Whitlan to finally face shifter justice.
What I love best about Shelly Laurenston’s shifter series is how true to the animal nature she keeps the characters. The bears are either laid back or loners or aggressive, depending on the type of bear. The cats are sultry and protective. The wolves stick with packs. The honey badgers are all petite and aggressive and nothing says party like a backyard full of poisonous snakes.
I love the introduction of Vic’s new partner, Shen, who is very laid back and always snacking on bamboo.
This book could be read as a stand alone, but there are many past characters who show up in this story that you won’t understand the relationships if this is your first Pride book. We even get a surprise Smith showing up. And it is more fun when you understand that the Smith’s are the hillbilly/moonshine running wolf pack vs. the rich and powerful Van Holtz wolf pack vs. the prodigy-filled jackal family.
There is a lot of wit mixed in this paranormal series and the pack, pride or clan being featured has a lot to do with how the story goes.
Shelly Laurenston offers a lot of fun for anyone looking for a lighthearted paranormal series.
Received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
(Livy and Vic attend a Renaissance Faire in the bear town of Honeyville, and Livy decides to work out some of her aggression by jousting.)
Livy stared up at the horse one of the faire employees held for her. She glanced over and said, “You can’t be serious.”
“These are horses bred for two things. Handling the weight of big guys in armor…and not panicking at the scent of shifters. Helping some tiny feminist trying to prove something was not on our list of things to accomplish during the breeding process,” he finished.
Livy looked under the horse and asked, “Huh. What’s this? It looks bad.”
The faire employee bent down to see what Livy was looking at and that’s when she rammed the pummel of her sword into the employee’s tibia. She heard something snap, and he went down with a roar onto one knee. Before he could fall back, Livy climbed onto his shoulders and mounted the horse that was way too big for her.
She looked down at the now-sobbing bear. “Thanks for the help.”
Vic walked into the prep area and stopped when he saw her.
“Have you ever ridden a horse before?” he asked.
“No. There were horses at the private school I went to. Riding lessons were mandatory and were part of our gym grade, but every time I got close to them, the horses tried to stomp me into the ground. Eventually, I had to be excused.”
“But now you’re going to ride one that’s too big for you so you can…joust?”
“That’s the plan.” Someone put a lance in her hand. It was heavy and too long, but livy held on to it. “How do I look?” she asked again.
“If you’re going to be negative…”
Livy moved around in the saddle.
“What?” Vic asked.
“I wish I didn’t have to wear this armor. It’s making my skin itch.”
“Take that armor off, female, and still try to joust, and I’ll beat you to death myself.”
Livy nodded. “Subtle.”
“I’m not subtle. Never said I was subtle. Worried you’re about to do something stupid? Yes. That is accurate.”
“Honey Badger’s up!” someone called out.
“I’m up.” Livy stared at the back of the horse’s head. “You can go now,” she told the beast.
Vic dropped his head into his hands.
Chuckling, she tapped the sides of the horse’s flanks with her heels and rode to the field. True, she might not have ridden the horses at her fancy private school, but that didn’t mean the gym teacher wasn’t a bitch who hated Livy so much she made the fourteen-year-old sit and watch the others for the entire period. At the time, Livy hated Mrs. Webb, but at the moment, she’d discovered a new found appreciation.
Once Livy was led into position, she looked around at the crowd. The faire was surprisingly big and had a lot of attendees. Even the cats from the town next door came to the Honeyville Annual Renaissance Faire.
And apparently the joust was the most popular attraction; the makeshift arena was already packed, with the audience continuing to grow.
A seven-foot older grizzly stood next to her, his face obscured by an enormous beard and long brown and gray hair. Another hippie, she was guessing. Like Rita.
Livy took the offered honey stick, bit off the tip, and sucked out the honey inside while the grizzly studied her a moment before asking, “I know you honey badgers are tough and all, but you do know that we’re going to crush your tiny little body into the dirt, don’t ya?”
“Yeah. I know that.”
“You don’t mind?”
“Not as much as I probably should.” She shrugged. “Trying to work out some issues.”
“Ahhh. I see.” The grizzly leaned in. “Well, me and the guys had a thought. You see, the reason we have this first night of jousting is because we always have to work through the cats from next door before we can get to a good rousing joust with the rest of us. The felines bring a lot of money to this faire, so we put up with ‘em. But it gets a bit boring.”
Livy again looked around at the audience, which was still growing…with bears.
“You want me to take out the cats…don’t you?” Livy asked.
“Cat humiliation and bear entertainment all rolled in one. Think you can do that?”
“What do I get out of it?” Because at the end of the day, Livy was still her mother’s daughter.
“Year’s supply of your favorite honey from Rita’s story?”
Livy immediately thought of the cinnamon-infused honey and she sort of shuddered. A good shudder, though. A delicious, honey-filled shudder.
The grizzly patted her leg. “Have fun, sweetie.”
Livy planned to…
ORDER A COPY: Iron Kissed (Mercy Thompson, Book 3)
Publisher: Penguin Group
Publishing Date: January 2, 2008
Paperback: 287 pages
Rating: 4 stars
Mechanic Mercy Thompson can shift her shape – but not her loyalty. When her former boss and mentor is arrested for murder and left to rot behind bars by his own kind, it’s up to Mercy to clear his name, whether he wants her to or not.
Mercy’s loyalty is under pressure from other directions, too. Werewolves are not known for their patience, and if Mercy can’t decide between the two she cares for, Sam and Adam may make the choice for her.
Mercy Thompson has always tried to keep out of the way of other preternatural creatures. When you know that goes bump in the night, you know it is best not to let them notice you. Growing up in a werewolf pack, Mercy has always been in and around pack business. Recent events have caused Mercy to now owe favors to the vampires and to the fae and she is making a lot of friends and enemies with both groups. The vampires calling in that favor didn’t go so well for Mercy, so what makes her think helping out the fae would be any better?
The Grimm brothers had it right. Fae are not nice creatures and everything they do comes with a price.
Uncle Mike and Zee, Mercy’s friend and mentor, have asked for Mercy’s help to find out who has been killing fae on the fae reservation. In her coyote form, Mercy’s nose can pick up the scent of anyone who has been at all the crime scenes. Except Mercy’s immunity to some magic allows her to see some things on the reservation that the fae don’t want outsiders to know about.
When Mercy points out the killer, Uncle Mike and Zee go to have a talk with him (fae code for make him disappear forever) only to find out someone beat them to it. Someone with enough strength to rip off a man’s head. Surprising the police arrive at the door just as Zee and Uncle Mike arrive and Zee is arrested for murder.
The Grey Lords who rule over the fae are more than willing to sacrifice Zee to the humans so that no more attentions is focused in on the fae, but Mercy is not willing to sacrifice her friend and let the real killer go free and the Grey Lords aren’t very happy with Mercy’s decision to get in their way.
I am really getting into this series, but this was a much darker story than the two prior books. In the last one Mercy is helping the vampires but learning things that the vampires don’t want her to know, like how to kill a vamp. In this one Mercy is learning too much about the secretive and mysterious fae. Vampires each have different gifts and abilities, but that is nothing to the broad spectrum of the fae.
Even Zee becomes angry with Mercy in this story, but whether it is because she is drawing the attention of the Grey Lords by fighting Zee’s imprisonment or whether he is angry because Mercy tells fae secrets to the attorney she hires, Mercy isn’t sure. When Zee calls due the note on the garage (which is a serious fae spit-in-the-face), Mercy is heartbroken that she has lost her friend and mentor.
It is a much darker story since Mercy does not get away unscathed from this adventure. Fae magic is used against her in the most brutal way. This leads to anxiety attacks and PTSD issues in the next story. She is now being watched by the Vampire Mistress and the Grey Lords and being under the protection of the wolves may no longer be enough to keep Mercy safe.
“You are telling me that Zee went to O’Donnell’s house to murder him?”
I took a deep breath. “You aren’t going to understand this. You don’t know the fae, not really. Imprisoning a fae is…impractical. First of all, it’s damned difficult. Holding a person is hard enough. Holding a fae for any time at all, if he doesn’t want to be held, is near impossible. Even without that, a life sentence is highly impractical when fae can live for hundreds of years.” Or a lot more, but the public didn’t know that. “And when you let them go, they aren’t likely to shrug it off as justice served. The fae are a vengeance-hungry race. If you imprison a fae, for whatever reason, you’d better be dead when he gets out or you’ll wish you were. Human justice just isn’t equipped to deal with the fae, so they take care of it. A fae who commits a serious crime—like murder—is simply executed on the spot.” The werewolves did the same.
She pinched the bridge of her nose as if I were giving her a headache.
“O’Donnell wasn’t fae. He was human.”
I thought about trying to explain why a people who were used to dealing out their own justice would care less that the perpetrator was human, but decided it was pointless. “The fact remains that Zee did not kill O’Donnell Someone got there first.”
Her bland face didn’t indicate belief, so I asked, “Do you know the story of Thomas the Rhymer?”
“True Thomas? It’s a fairy tale,” she said. “A prototype of Irving’s ‘Rip Van Winkle.'”
“Uhm,” I said. “Actually, I’m under the impression that it was mostly a true story, Thomas’s I mean. Thomas was, at any rate, a real historical person, a noted political entity of the thirteenth century. He claimed that he’d been caught for seven years by the queen of the fairies, then allowed to return. He either asked the fairy queen for a sign that he could show his kin so they would believe him when he told them where he’d been, or he stole a kiss form the fairy queen. Whatever the reason, he was given a gift, and like most fairy gifts, it was more curse than blessing—the fairy queen rendered him incapable of lying. For a diplomat or a lover or a businessman, that was a cruel thing to do, but the fae are often cruel.”
She didn’t sound happy. I guess she didn’t like thinking any of the fairy tales were true. It was a common attitude.
People could believe in the fae, but fairy tales were fairy tales. Only children would really believe in them.
It was an attitude that the fae themselves promoted. In most folktales, the fae are not exactly friendly. Take Hansel and Gretel, for instance. Zee once told me that there are a lot of fae in the rez, if left to their preferred diets, would happily eat people…especially children.
“He was cursed to become like the fae themselves,” I told her. “Most fae, including Zee, cannot tell a lie. They are very, very good at making you think they are saying one thing, when they mean another, but they cannot lie.”
“Everyone can lie.”
I smiled at her tightly. “The fae cannot. I don’t know why. They can do the damnedest things with the truth, but they cannot lie.”
ORDER A COPY: Moon Called (Mercy Thompson, Book 1)
Publisher: Penguin Group
Publishing Date: January 31, 2006
Paperback: 288 pages
Rating: 4 stars
Mercedes “Mercy” Thompson is a talented Volkswagen mechanic living in the Tri-Cities area of Washington. She also happens to be a walker, a magical being with the power to shift into a coyote at will. Mercy’s next-door neighbor is a werewolf. Her former boss is a gremlin. And she’s fixing a bus for a vampire. This is the world of Mercy Thompson, one that looks a lot like ours but is populated by those things that go bump in the night. And Mercy’s connection to those things is about to get her into some serious hot water.
Mercy is a “walker” who can turn into a coyote, but who was raised by werewolves, and not just any werewolf, by Bran, the Marrok (or leader of all the werewolves).
Mercy lives an ordinary life, well, sort of…she owns her own garage which she bought from a retiring Fae named Zee, and she is friends with a vampire named Stefan who has a VW bus painted to look like the Mystery Machine from Scooby Doo.
She also shares a property line with the local Alpha of the Columbia Basin pack named Adam Hauptman and his teenage daughter, Jesse. Adam keeps a powerful Russian witch on retainer for hiding the werewolf’s presence from the humans. Pretty much an average, ordinary life.
When a runaway teen shows up at her garage, she quickly smells that he is a werewolf and this young werewolf is not part of a pack. Mercy offers him a job so she can keep an eye out for him. When a werewolf and a human come looking for him, Mercy is forced to help him defend himself. After blood is shed, Mercy calls Adam in to take care of the young Wolf and introduce him to pack life.
But things aren’t that simple. The people who are looking for Mac are daring, or just stupid enough to attack Adam in his home. Mercy helps Adam defeat the intruders, but not before Adam is seriously injured and his daughter, Jesse, is kidnapped. Mercy needs to find a more dominant werewolf fast because once Adam regains consciousness, his injured wolf will be uncontrollable until he is healed. The only ones Mercy knows that are strong enough to control a powerful Alpha like Adam is Bran and his sons.
Mercy might not be part of Adam’s pack, but she is now embroiled in what might be a pack war. She has to find out who attacked Adam and who would have taken his daughter.
I was recently offered a review copy of the upcoming Night Broken (which is Book #8 in this series) so I did a search of the Mercy Thompson series and it sounded right up my alley. I decided to take some time to catch up and get to know some of the characters.
This is a much better Sookie Stackhouse type of story plot, meaning she is not part of any specific group, but she keeps getting dragged into pack or vampire business. In this series, Mercy is a preternatural creature since she is half human/half walker. She is immune to some magic and she can shape shift into the form of a coyote. She is not a part of Adam’s pack (even though Adam told his pack Mercy was his) but she gets drawn into pack business when Adam is badly injured, and something makes her afraid to call in his pack for fear that there is a traitor in the pack. Who else would try to attack an Alpha in his own home?
She has several preternatural connections who she contacts to assist her in helping Adam heal as well as tracking down who would abduct his daughter.
I like that although Mercy is brave, she is not stupid. She doesn’t just jump into a fight unprepared. For example, when Mac is tracked down by a werewolf and a human. Mercy knows she can’t out power the werewolf and the human has a gun. She watches and observes and it isn’t until Mac is being attacked that she jumps in, using the element of surprise and getting the werewolf to chase her while using her brains to outmaneuver his bulk.
This story wasn’t non-stop action since it was the first in the series and involves a lot of introduction of characters, including explaining the dangers of the werewolves and the vampires in general, and how the Fae have been forced into the public eye and how the werewolves are considering joining them. We are also introducing the base characters of the story: including Mercy, Adam, Jesse, Zee, Stefan, Bran, Samuel, several members of Adam’s pack as well as Bran’s pack, and Mercy’s relationship with each of these characters.
It was good storytelling and interesting world building and it held my interest throughout. I have already started Book 2 where we start by Stefan asking Mercy to make good on the favor he did her helping find Jesse.
Personally, I think Olivia Wilde would be a perfect Mercy Thompson. Can someone get casting on the phone?
“What happened?” he asked, his voice softer than the first snowfall in winter.
“It’s complicated,” I said, holding his gaze for two full seconds before I turned my head and gestured toward the body. “The dead one is there. If he belongs to you, he is new—and you haven’t been doing your job. He was as deaf and blind as a human. I was able to take him by surprise, then he was too ignorant to realize that the wound wouldn’t close as fast as usual if it was given by a preternatural creature. He let himself bleed out because he was too caught up in the chase to—“
“Enough, Mercedes,” he growled as he strode over to the dead wolfman and knelt beside him. He moved the body and one of the corpse’s arms flopped down limply on the ground.
Mac whined eagerly, then bowed his head and pressed it against my thigh so that he couldn’t see.
The sound drew Adam’s attention from the body to the boy at my feet.
He growled. “This one isn’t one of mine—and neither is that.”
“So gracious,” I said. “Your mother should be complimented on your manners, Hauptman.”
“Careful,” he whispered. It wasn’t a threat, it was a warning.
Okay. He was scary. Really scary. He’d probably have been scary even when he was just a human. But it wouldn’t do to let him know he intimidated me.
“Adam Hauptman,” I said politely to show him how it was done. “Allow me to introduce you to Mac—that’s all his name I know. He was attacked by a werewolf in Chicago about two moons ago. The werewolf killed his girlfriend, but he survived. He was taken by his attacker and put in a cage. A man who sounds a lot like the Chicago Alpha Leo sold him to someone who held him inside a cage in a semitrailer and used him for what sounds like some sort of drug experiments until he broke free. Last Friday he showed up at my door looking for work.”
“You didn’t inform me that you had a strange wolf on your doorstep?”
I gave him a put-upon sigh. “I am not one of your pack members, Adam. I know this is difficult for you to fathom, so I’ll speak slowly: I don’t belong to you. I am under no obligation to tell you anything.”
Adam swore harshly. “New werewolves are dangerous, woman. Especially when they are cold and hungry.” He looked at Mac, and his voice changed completely, the heat and anger gone. “Mercy, come here.”
I didn’t look down to see what he’d noticed in Mac’s face. I took a step, but Mac was wrapped around my left leg. I stopped before I fell. “Uhm. I’m a little stuck for the moment.”
“For a smart girl, you’re pretty stupid sometimes,” he said, his voice rich and gentle so as not to startle the werewolf by my side. “Locking yourself in a garage with a new wolf and a dead body isn’t the smartest thing you could have done. I don’t have a connection with him yet. It would help if you have his real name.”
“Mac,” I murmured. “What’s your name?”
“Alan,” he said dreamily, coming up to his knees so his face was pressed against my belly. “Alan MacKenzie Frazier after my grandfather who died the year I was born.” The friction of his movement rucked my shirt up and he licked my bare skin. To an outsider it might have looked sensual, but the abdomen is a vulnerable spot on the body, a favorite of predators. “You smell good,” he whispered.
He smelled like werewolf, and I started to panic—which wasn’t a very useful thing to do.
“Alan,” said Adam, rolling the name on his tongue. “Alan MacKenzie Frazier, come here to me.”
Mac jerked his head away from me but tightened his arms painfully on my hips. He looked at Adam and growled, a low rumble that caused his chest to vibrate against my leg.
“Mine,” he said.
Adam’s eyes narrowed. “I don’t think so. She is mine.”
It would have been flattering, I thought, except that at least one of them was talking about dinner and I wasn’t certain about the other. While Adam had Mac distracted, I reached behind me and grabbed my big crowbar from the shelf directly behind us. I brought it down on Mac’s collarbone.
It was an awkward hit because I didn’t have much leverage, but the collarbone, even on a werewolf, is not hard to damage. I heard the bone crack and wrenched myself out of Mac’s grip and across the garage before he recovered from the unexpected pain.
I didn’t like hurting him, but he would heal in a few hours as long as I didn’t let him eat me. I didn’t think he was the kind of person who would recover from murder as easily as he would a broken bone.